Christmas figures reveal massive rise in e-commerce

Out-Law News | 20 Jan 2006 | 12:28 pm | 1 min. read

Half the UK's adult population shopped online for Christmas 2005 and, between April 2000 and December 2005, UK online shopping has grown 2,600%, according to figures released today by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG).

Internet shopping soared almost 50% during the 10-week run-up to Christmas 2005. Shoppers spent £4.98 billion online, compared with £3.33 billion during the same period in 2004, according to the industry body.

IMRG Managing Director Jo Tucker said: "A step change happened in retailing at Christmas. Consumers have spoken. They want the convenience and choice that online shopping provides. Many just don't have time to trudge the streets hoping goods are in stock. There can no longer be any doubt that the internet is a major part of the retail landscape, and that it will dominate the retail agenda for the next several years."

Over 2005, UK consumers spent £19.2 billion on goods and services, 32% more than in 2004. Twenty-four million British consumers shopped online in the year, spending on average £816 each, and £208 in the run-up to Christmas.

IMRG forecasts that UK e-retail will grow 36% in 2006, and sales will be worth £26 billion for the calendar year. Shoppers will each spend on average more than £1,000 for the first time in 2006.

IMRG's CEO, James Roper, said: "A surprising number of goods are still either hard to find or unavailable online. Large gaps exist in the supply market, such as high-end fashion and real estate. Even leading retailers often only make a small proportion of their total inventory available online, and many don't bother with spares at all. So huge growth potential remains for the merchants who plug these holes."

Yesterday, the UK Government's Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that sales of goods and services to households over the internet by the non-financial sector reached £18.1 billion in 2004. This was 67% higher than in 2003. Today, the ONS reported that, as of November 2005, the ratio of broadband to dial-up internet connections in the UK was 6:4, with dial-up connections in decline.